Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why can't good people go to Heaven?


Teaching: Good people cannot earn their way to Heaven. God only allows holy, perfect, flawless people to live in His presence.

Scriptures (look 'em up yourself):
1. Isaiah 64:6- Our best efforts are like filthy rags.
2. Romans 3:23- All of us sin & fall short of God's glorious standard.
3. Romans 3:10- There is none righteous, not even one.
4. James 2:10- If you keep the whole law, yet stumble in one area; you are guilty of breaking the whole law.
5. 1 John 1:10- If we say that we have not sinned, we make God out to be a liar & His word is not in us.
6. 1 John 1:8- If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves & the truth is not in us.
7. Psalm 15:1- Who may dwell with God? One who is blameless, without sin or fault.
8. 1 Peter 1:15-16- Be holy (pure, blameless) as I am holy. God is our standard of righteousness, not other people.

To say you are good & are somehow good "enough" to get into Heaven is extremely arrogant. It also says that we do not understand God's standard of how good good is. God does not grade on a curve. He does not compare us to other people & then take the top, whatever percentage of people.
God's standard of "good enough" is Jesus. In order to go to Heaven, we need to be just as good as Jesus.
My immediate thought here is, "This is impossible! Who then can be saved?" Well let's look at Jesus on this subject to answer the question-


Jesus on the subject: Mark 10:17-31; Matthew 19:16-26
17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
19 “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’ ”
20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
22 But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.
23 And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!”
24 The disciples awere amazed at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
25 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 They were even more astonished and said to Him, “Then who can be saved?”
27 Looking at them, Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
An outline, summary of the passage:
I. Man asks, "What must I do to have eternal life?"
II. Jesus responds,
A. "No one is good, except God alone." -are you an exception to that rule? Jesus didn't even accept the title of good.
B. "Keep the 10 Commandments."
III. Man's response, "I have been keeping them, ever since I was a kid." or "I am good enough"
IV. Jesus responds, "One thing you lack." In other words, "NO YOU HAVEN'T!"
V. Man's response- walks away sad, he was unwilling to really follow God after all.
VI. Disciples' response- "Who can be saved?"
VII. Jesus' response- "Man can't save themselves, but God can."

This is why Jesus died! Because you aren't good enough. You need saving. Jesus came to save you, because you are imperfect, you do sin, you have "issues" and so do I.
Accepting Jesus isn't about being good enough or religious enough. It is about realizing your need, that you can't earn your way to heaven, that you are imperfect & then asking Him to be your savior. He is our hope of one day being in Heaven.


Resolution: Shellie & I have a couple family members who feel that we are judging them, saying they aren't good enough to go to heaven. My response is, YES! I am judging you. I am telling you the truth, that you AREN'T good enough. You are a sinner who needs salvation! You are absolutely reading me right!!! But I am not saying that I am better than you. What I want, because I love you, is that you understand that you need a savior, just as I do and so far, you aren't understanding that, as far as I can tell. We are a couple of imperfect people that need saving. Everyone needs saving...but some are too prideful & don't think they do. Let's be honest.

That is why you see Christians with the bumper stickers, "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven."
We understand that we aren't any better than you. What we do understand is that Jesus died & rose again to save us, because we are too imperfect, we aren't good enough to save ourselves.

Have you admitted to God what he already knows about you- that you aren't perfect, that you can't really earn your way to Heaven?
Have you thanked Jesus for dying to take your sin upon himself so you could be forgiven and then asked him to become your hope of salvation?
Now that you are forgiven, is it your desire to live a life that is pleasing to him?
Matthew 22:36-40 Love God- commitment to honoring Him. Love people- doing good to all
Ephesians 2:8-10

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Story


Not that I am worth reading about, as far as being better than anyone else. But I have had something amazing happen to me a while ago that I felt would be worth sharing.

When I was a boy in middle school (Laramie), I use to hang around a bunch of guys and we did a bunch of crazy things like throwing snowballs at cars, breaking into houses (never stole anything, just did it for the adventure), and exploring in the woods of Oak Forest. And as it is in social circles, in order to keep the status of coolness, we always were in pursuit of doing more daring things in order to maintain our high position ;-).
Sidenote: I always had this empty feeling inside of me, that I wanted filled.
Eventually, our pursuit of "fun" and adventure led us to a handicapped guys house. My friends use to tease him, and although I didn't really like this, I stayed with them & stood in the background. I wanted to be with my friends but didn't want to make fun of someone (other than just teasing my friends). One day this man said to us, "One of these days you guys are going to kill me." . Well, one day, when I wasn't with my friends, they went back to this guys house. He fell down the stairs & ended up never coming out of the hospital. My friends thought this was funny, but I was angry about this (although I, until right now, never mentioned this to them).
Slowly, I started to pull away from this group of friends. And found that there was a widening gap coming between us.

One night, while lying in bed, something amazing happened to me. While I was lying there, feeling bummed about my friends, a song from Sunday School came to my mind (by the way I didn't like Sunday School or really care for church at all- ask my former teachers, they will tell you how bad I was), "Jesus loves me.". Then a picture vividly came to my mind. It was a picture of Jesus standing outside of a house knocking on the frontdoor. Behind the door was a family (dad, mom, girl, boy) sitting in there and looking at the door. I thought, "Why won't this family open the door to Jesus?".
Being frustrated at this image, the thought came to me, "Why won't I open the door to Jesus and allow him to come into my life?" So I decided to open the door and ask Jesus become my savior.
Now this is the strange part- remember the emptiness? Well, there was instantly a feeling of overwhelming peace that came into me and filled that emptiness. It was a very powerful moment. It was at that moment that I knew that God had forgiven me and had come into my life.
There wasn't a flash of lightning or any angelic choir (that I could hear). I didn't grow a beard & start walking around in sandals. I didn't become a perfect person either. The only big differences I noticed is that I had this new peace & I actually got something out of church that next Sunday.

Since then, my heart has always desired to know Christ & to follow him by loving God & loving others. I am far from perfect, but I desire to be holy. I am no better than you, but I desire to honor God. The Bible teaches that we all sin, we are all guilty before God. You and me. The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death & that our best efforts to earn salvation are but dirty rags that amount to nothing.
That is why Jesus had to come. He laid down His life to be the sacrifice for our sins. But not only for just our sins, but the sins of the whole world. And the Bible teaches that anyone who trust in Jesus, accepting Him as their savior, will not perish but have eternal life. Have you ever done this? Do you have eternal life or are you still under the guilt of sin? I am not talking about being better than other people. I am talking about you and me being forgiven. Are you forgiven?

My desire is that all of my friends will one day be in God's presence, along with everyone else who trusts Christ as their salvation. Will you ask Him to come and be your savior too? If so, you can have this forgiveness and eternal life too. You can have a relationship with your Creator and be adopted into His family. You too can have a heavenly Father who turns his ears to your prayers & helps you through the problems of life. You can have hope of better things to come & a peace with God.

Just wanted to challenge you here.

Love,

Jeff

Friday, February 12, 2010

How to have Eternal Life: explained by Dare2Share

What is the GOSPEL Journey?

Sharing the gospel with someone else is like taking them on a journey with six stops along the way. The evangelist becomes a guide of sorts who brings their fellow sojourners to six stops along the way to pause and ponder the landscape of the story of the Bible, the gospel message. This journey begins in Genesis chapter one with the creation of humanity and concludes with the last chapter of the Bible, Revelation chapter twenty two. In between there are twists and turns, break ups and make ups, mystery and intrigue but the driving message of the plot is that from the ashes of sin comes the redemption of mankind through the death of Christ and His resurrection from the dead.

In many ways this journey is like a fairy tale that just happens to be true. It could begin "Once upon a time" and conclude "and they lived happily ever after." This journey through the storyline of the Bible is filled with mankind's weak attempts at reconciliation toward a God whose heart humanity had broken. Much of the Old Testament is filled with examples of how sinful humanity attempted to gain God's acceptance through good deeds (Cain and his vegetables), obedience to God's commandments and a seemingly endless array of blood sacrifices. But all of these failed attempts prepared the way for the coming of Christ and the hope that He offered by His once and for all sacrifice on the cross.

The irreducible minimum of the gospel message can be communicated in an acrostic with six letters in it that happen to spell out the word "gospel".

God created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)

In these two chapters God creates all of the universe and everything in it (Genesis 1:1), including the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. God created Adam and Eve with purpose. He called them to "be fruitful and multiply" (Genesis 1:28) and fill the earth with their offspring. He gave them the mission of taking care of the earth and tending the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15.)

God made them to be in complete fellowship with Him and with each other. Their nakedness (Genesis 2:25) represented the fact that they had no sin, therefore no shame, therefore nothing to hide before God or each other. They regularly communed with God in the garden and had sheer bliss, pure happiness and unadulterated joy. It was during this time that they were living everyday as God intended, in right relationship with each other, God and His creation. The only command God gave to them was not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

In the same way God made us to be in fellowship with Him. His original plan was that you and I were in absolute and perfect relationship with Him and with each other in total unity. God created us to be in harmony with all of heaven and all of earth. But that plan was disrupted by one evil act thousands and thousands of years ago.

Key Questions to Consider:

  • Why do you think God created us to be in absolute fellowship with Him?
  • How happy do you think Adam and Eve really were?
  • Why do you think God only gave Adam and Eve one rule to obey?

Our sins separate us from God. (Genesis 3)

When Adam and Eve were tempted by Satan and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:6), and thereby sinned, they immediately became aware of their "error." They sewed fig leaves together to cover their shame and hid in the garden from God (Genesis 3:7,8). Now they were hiding from the one that they used to fellowship with regularly. Men and women have been hiding from God ever since, covering their sin and shame with the fig leaves of religion or philosophy.

God confronted them face to face. As a result of their sin there were immediate and future consequences. The immediate consequences were being banished from the garden (Genesis 3:23,24), having difficulty in childbirth (Genesis 3:16) and our work turning from a joy that we love to a job that we hate (Genesis 3:17-19).

The future consequence for Adam and Eve was physical death. God had promised in Genesis 2:17 that the day he sinned by eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that he would "surely die." Spiritually Adam and Eve died the day they sinned in the garden. Their souls became immediately polluted by sin and selfishness. As a result all of their offspring (and that includes you and me) were born sinful and selfish. Through Adam every person ever born is born deprived and depraved, deprived of God's fellowship and depraved to the core (Romans 5:12-14).

When confronted by God the blame game begins. Adam blames Eve (Genesis 3:12) and Eve blames the snake (Genesis 3:13). Humanity has been playing the blame game ever since. What began as paradise unraveled with a single choice to disobey God and listen to Satan instead. Every war, famine, argument, sin and tragedy can be traced back to the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve chose to turn their backs on God for a taste of fruit.

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Genesis 4 - Malachi 4)

From the beginning humanity has attempted to remove the stain of sin by good deeds. When Cain offered God vegetables as an appeasement for his sin God rejected it (Genesis 4:1-4). Cain was infuriated and killed his brother Abel.

In Exodus, the second book of the Bible, God gave the Israelites the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), not to save them from their sin, but to show them that they couldn't live up to his perfect standards on their own (Galatians 3:23-24). Instead of looking to Him in faith many of the Jews looked to themselves and thought they could please God in their own strength. But God saw their "righteous" deeds like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Even the best of their good deeds were corrupted by selfish motives.

In Leviticus, the third book of the Bible, God gave the Israelites the sacrificial system. Every time a Jew sinned he or she was to sacrifice a goat without any blemishes (Leviticus 4:27-31). Think about that. If you were a Jew in the Old Testament and had to make a sacrifice every time you lied, lusted, gossiped, complained or argued you would soon run out of goats. Other offerings included offerings of bulls and sheep.

The sacrificial system was meant to point inward, upward and forward. It pointed inward to convince you of your sinfulness. If you were honest before God then you would soon realize that you could never make enough sacrifices for your sin. It pointed upward to make you trust in God for your salvation instead of sacrifices that you could make (Psalm 51:16,17). It pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice of the lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who would someday come to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

The rest of the Old Testament tells the story of the Jewish people, some of whom realized they were sinners and needed God to save them (Psalm 51:1,2) and most of whom trusted in their own goodness instead of the mercy and grace of God (Isaiah 64:6).

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew - Luke)

When Jesus came to the earth he came as the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17) and the ultimate sacrifice (Luke 24:45). He lived the perfect life that we could not live and died in our place, for our sin. When he died upon the cross he screamed the words "It is finished" (John 19:30). What he meant by these three words was that the price for our sins was paid completely. He was fully God and entirely man. As a perfect human he could die for other humans. As the true and living God his payment for sin was infinite.

Jesus rose from the dead three days after he was murdered on the cross (Mark 16:6). He was seen by over 500 witnesses (I Corinthians 15:6) on at least 12 separate occasions over the course of forty days (Acts 1:3). Because he died our sins are paid for entirely. Because he rose from the dead we know that Jesus was who he claimed to be, God in the flesh.

Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life. (John)

The amazing thing about eternal life is that it is a free gift given to us by God through faith alone and not by any of our good deeds (Ephesians 2:8,9). Jesus paid the price for our sins when he died on the cross and all we must do is receive the gift of forgiveness through faith. When we believe that Jesus died for our sins and trust in Him alone we receive eternal life, are passed out of death into life and are guaranteed a home in heaven (John 5:24).

Eternal life is not achieved by good deeds but received through faith. It's not a matter of trying but trusting. When we believe we receive the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. Almost the entire New Testament is dedicated to talking about this eternal life and the implications of it in our everyday lives. From John through Jude the disciples of Jesus show us how to live like Jesus intended, serving each other in love. This is the heart of eternal life!

Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. (Acts - Revelation)

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead we will be with Jesus forever in heaven. When we trust in Jesus we enter into a personal, permanent relationship with God called "eternal life."

Part of the reality of eternal life is that it doesn't start after you die but as soon as you believe (John 10:10). This life is the joy of a real, exciting relationship with Jesus every single day through prayer, worship and living in the strength that God provides through his Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18).

The other part of the reality of eternal life is that all who have it will be with Jesus forever and ever in heaven someday. Once we receive it is ours forever and we are his forever!

The last chapter of the last book of the Bible makes it clear that we will "rule and reign forever" with Jesus (Revelation 22:5). In essence the last chapter in the story of the Bible concludes by saying, "and they lived happily ever after."

If you have never trusted Christ for eternal life and it is something you would like to do right now, here is a sample prayer:

"Dear Father, I know that I'm a sinner. I realize that my good deeds will never get me into heaven. Right now I believe that Jesus died in my place for my sins. I trust in Him alone to forgive me for all of my sins. Thank you for your free gift of eternal life."

If you trusted Christ, please let us know! E-mail information@dare2share.org. We will get you some free material and help you in your life as a new believer.

If you want to learn more about your relationship with Jesus Christ check out our devotion series 'Now That You Believe'.

About Dare 2 Share

Dare 2 Share is a church assisting ministry that provides resources for youth leaders and equips teens to relationally and relentlessly reach their generation for Christ. Over 1,400 of these resources are provided completely FREE! D2S also conducts nationwide youth evangelism training conferences. The events are structured for students in junior high and high school, ranging from 12 to 18 years old. Regardless of gender or denomination, D2S teaches from a Christian perspective. D2S is based in Denver, Colorado and has impacted the lives of more than 300,000 teens since 1991.